Oct 112012

NOTE: in this post, another observer thrilled by the apparently limitless horizons of synthetic biology makes the point that the DIY biohacker ‘revolution’ is where the real innovations will happen, beyond the corporate sphere of influence. Of course, the computer revolution spearheaded by guys in garages in the 1970’s would never have taken off if those guys in garages hadn’t transformed themselves into the most high-powered corporate execs in the history of industrial capital, and [More]

Oct 052012

By  Andy Coghlan, cross-posted from New Scientist THE next time humans set foot on an alien world, they may not travel alone. Small, lightweight “bug boxes” packed full of engineered microbes could make life on hostile planets a lot more liveable. Pioneering settlers on a distant world will require food, fuel and shelter if they are to survive, but bringing bulky supplies from Earth is far too costly. Synthetic biology offers another option. Microbes weigh [More]

Oct 042012
The Sweet Smell Of Microbes

NOTE: Well, all you patchouli lovers out there — your synthetic ship is coming in! Synthetic fragrances coming your way. Just what the world needs…  — ed. Flavor and fragrance molecules made by fermentation promise abundance regardless of the weather By Melody M. Bomgardner, from Chemical & Engineering News ORANGE YOU SMART Richard Burlingame of Allylix shows off a bottle of valencene made from sugar via fermentation. Credit: Allylix The flavor and fragrance industry experienced a [More]

Sep 042012
Weird Science: The Promise and Peril of Synthetic Biology

By Jeff Conant, from Earth Island Journal, Autumn, 2012 In 1971, a microbiologist named Ananda Chakrabarty patented a bacteria genetically engineered to degrade and destroy crude oil. The next year scientists created the first synthesized gene, a bit of yeast RNA ushered into existence virtually from scratch. These discoveries, among others, raised the curtain on the science of biotechnology. Forty years later, in 2010, biologist Craig Venter, already known as a key figure behind the mapping of the [More]